I was lucky enough to play in the 2019 Varsity Match, the last to be played at Twickenham before the pandemic hit. Nearly two and a half years later, after a brief sojourn to Leicester’s Welford Road and a change in date from December to April, the match is now returning to its home and, instead of getting ready to play, I’m now part of the organising committee.
After finishing the rugby season in 2019/20 I joined the Varsity March board, volunteering a few hours a week to oversee the finances of the event. It’s been a great way to stay connected to Cambridge and has also been a steep learning curve navigating the financial challenges of Covid along the way.
My time spent with CURUFC makes up some of my happiest memories from the MBA. There were two things I remember particularly fondly – the first was having the chance to meet people from across the university of all ages. My season kicked off with a tour to the South of France with the University 2nd team where I was by far the oldest player. Hanging out with a bunch of 19 – 21 year olds studying everything from Natural Sciences to Classics wasn’t something I’d anticipated but was great fun, kept me young and taught me a lot about the generation a decade younger than me.
The other great part was having MBAs down to the rugby club on Grange Road on Wednesday nights to watch matches and enjoy a few post-game beers. Half of them had never seen a rugby match before but that didn’t stop them being the most vocal spectators in the crowd. They quickly became favourites of the team, as our loudest supporters and made some great contributions to the post-match socials too.
After the pre-season tour to France, I played the rest of the season with the Blues squad where I got to play alongside two former internationals in James Horwill and Flip van der Merwe – both also CJBS alumni who were on the Executive MBA programme. The season took us over to Dublin for a great away match at Trinity College and later brought home games against the likes of the Army, the Navy and the RAF. We had a very good team and a few of the players from our squad have gone on to do well in the world of rugby – two played in the U20 Six Nations, one got the call-up for the Ireland 7s team and another is playing professionally across the Atlantic in the USA (sadly, I followed a more conventional route post-MBA into Fintech).
Both the build up to Varsity Match and the day itself were special experiences. December 2019 was particularly rainy so we ended up playing on a very wet day which wasn’t ideal for me out on the wing. It didn’t matter too much, though, as we ran out 15-0 winners over Oxford in front of 23,000 people at the home of rugby – it might not have been playing for England but it was very much a childhood dream come true for me and will be a memory I’ll cherish for a long time. I’ve been back a couple of times since. I’ll never get bored of seeing my name engraved into the wall in the clubhouse alongside all my teammates as a permanent reminder of winning the historic fixture.
CJBS alumnus, Tom Lovelace is now Commercial Lead at Juni, a neobank for eCommerce, based in London.